Contact: Roberta Cox at 214/768-2335

February 18, 2004


DALLAS (SMU) -- Vivian Oliver of Houston, Texas, is the recipient of the 2004 Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award, presented annually by the Perkins School of Theology at SMU. The award recognizes laypersons who exemplify Christian faith and commitment of Christ through service to others.

The award, to be presented at a ceremony March 5 during the 30th Annual Theological School for the Laity at Perkins, honors the memory of the late Judge Woodrow B. Seals, a senior U.S. district court judge from Houston who was instrumental in establishing the school. This annual event draws approximately 200 laypersons from around the country for workshops and discussions led by Perkins faculty members and guest speakers.

“We at Perkins, the university, and in the church are truly honored by a person such as Vivian Oliver,” said William B. Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology. “Her steadfast faith, actions, words and deeds provide a strong model for Christian discipleship.”

Ms. Oliver’s church activities span a period of more than 60 years with both the local, as well as the global churches. She has traveled extensively on mission trips to Zimbabwe, China, Haiti, India, Belize, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brazil where she experienced the local culture and discovered specific needs at each location. Upon returning to her home church, St. Philip’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Oliver made many presentations to both educate and enlist support necessary to address those needs.

Oliver served as a junior and senior high Sunday School teacher for 40 years and as a youth counselor for seventeen years. Currently, she is an officer in the United Methodist Women, chairperson of the Missions Committee, a member of the Administrative Council and leader of a weekly Bible study at St. Philip’s. She has served as an official on many United Methodist committees and boards. She has participated in the local Civic Club, the PTA board, the Methodist Hospital Auxiliary and was president and a member of the Board of Directors of the Wesley Community Center for 17 years.

Oliver has received numerous honors including a United Nations Award for International Student Work as a result of her efforts through Church Women United of Houston, a coalition of churches and synagogues that provided 400 meals each Wednesday at the University of Houston over a 9-year period. She was also named Woman of the Year in the Houston Southwest District for her outstanding work with the United Methodist Women.

Perkins School of Theology was one of the original schools of Southern Methodist University, which was founded in 1911 by what is now The United Methodist Church. Perkins is one of five university-related United Methodist theological schools in the nation. In addition to its programs at the Dallas campus, Perkins offers extension programs in Houston-Galveston and San Antonio.